Lennox Head Seven Mile Beach
Lennox Head Seven Mile Beach David Nielsen

Toxic algae heading to North Coast beaches

A LARGE bloom of toxic pink algae is floating off the Far North Coast and expected to cause beach closures in coming days.

The pink algae was first seen last week about 3-4km out from Yamba but authorities expect it to soon wash ashore at a number of beaches in the area.

"Where it hits depends on the way the eastern currents are running and what the wind does," a NSW Office of Water spokesman said.

"It moves around so quickly. There's a good chance it's going to hit eventually but we just don't know where."

He said the pink slime is capable of washing up at one beach and moving on to affect several others within days.

The actual size of the algae patch spotted near Yamba is yet to be determined.

"The wind and tide will spread it out one day so it's a few kilometres wide, but then it will be condensed another day," the spokesman said.

Popular Sydney beaches, including Bondi and Clovelly, were closed last week when a patch of red algae reached the coast.

While the red slime was capable of irritating people's skin and eyes, the spokesman said people should be more wary of the Far North Coast's pink algae as it is higher in toxicity.

"It's a bit more dangerous than the one they had down there. It actually affects the mucous membranes and can really damage the skin," he said.

Eight years ago, Byron Bay's beaches had to be closed after a similar form of algae struck the coast.

The pink algae is a natural phenomenon caused by high water temperatures and moving ocean currents which enable it to bloom and rise to the ocean's surface.

People are warned not eat shellfish or crustaceans which have come into contact with it and fish should be cleaned thoroughly with fresh water and have their innards and gills removed before being consumed.



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